“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” solidifies franchise at top of action genre

john wick 3

“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” was directed by Chad Stahelski and stars Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos and Asia Kate Dillon. The film is the third in the franchise based around, you guessed it, John Wick, the top assassin in the business who is now on the run from every other member of the assassin’s guild after a $14 million bounty is placed on his head.

The first two “John Wick” films are some of the best action movies in recent memory, and manage to both be brilliantly entertaining while also smart in its world building. There was no inclination that “Parabellum” would be any different, especially considering the terrific cliffhanger the second film leaves off on.

The Good

My inclinations were correct.

“Parabellum” is yet another great action movie to add to the franchise, rarely ever taking a step back in any facet. The highlight of the film comes with the action sequences, of course, with Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen coming together to make some gorgeously brutal moments of violence.

What allows “John Wick” movies to stand out in the action genre is the attention to detail throughout these fantastic action sequences. Especially with “Parabellum,” John Wick looks like he is seriously struggling to beat a lot of these enemies, and it makes it a hell of a lot more satisfying once he is able to handle what is brought to him.

The creativity with the action is fantastic, with my favorite scenes in this film coming on a horse, on motorcycles and with shotguns. The visuals are also phenomenal, much like they were in the second movie, and they help to add an extra level of flair.

Aside from the fights that stand out as the best parts, it is the man behind the titular character that makes it all run so well. Reeves is excellent in this role again, continually making it seem like this was the role he was born to play. Reeves has that level of charm and lack of hesitation to do his own stunts that John Wick absolutely needs, and he continues to give the character more and more to appreciate.

McShane is specifically great in this movie, as is newcomer Mark Dacasos, who plays a brilliantly weird antagonist. I thought the addition of Halle Berry was also strong, especially the scenes involving her dogs.

There is a ton of world building done with “Parabellum” that expands on concepts even further than in the second film. Watching John Wick become excommunicado allows for an energetic, hold-your-breath sort of start that immediately sucks you in, and my attention was not lost much along the way.

The Bad

It wasn’t lost much, but there were a few times where “Parabellum” started to veer off course just a bit.

While I did appreciate Berry’s performance in the film, it is her introduction where the movie does lose me for awhile, as well as events that precede her introduction. That’s not to say I dislike all of these moments, but it felt like some world building that was overly adventurous and not as necessary.

Asia Kate Dillon’s performance as The Adjudicator was fine, but I thought her character could have been more exciting. Her role is pretty generic and seemingly that was intentional, but I think giving her some sort of extra layer could have worked better in a world that has been built up with a ton of exciting characters.

No spoilers, but the ending does leave off with a cliffhanger, again. One time, I will allow it, especially with how exciting of a cliffhanger it was in “John Wick 2,” but this one felt a tad lazier, making me wish for a legitimate resolution for this part of the story.

Conclusion

“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is another excellent installment in what is becoming one of the best action franchises of the century. Reeves is great yet again, as is the world building, but the action set pieces take center stage, and man, do they not disappoint. While I would say this film doesn’t quite reach the level set by the second movie, “Parabellum” is not remotely a step back.

Instead, it is another brilliantly brutal time that is worth every penny for fans of the franchise, or of the action genre at all.

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